Pete Ahlen's Reviews > Continental Drift

Continental Drift by Russell Banks
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's review
Apr 18, 10

Read in February, 2009

Continental Drift, like many of Banks' books, starts with his main character(s) somewhere in midlife and having been pretty much beaten down, usually by forces beyond their control.

In Continental Drift, Bob, a small town New Englander, does not know how to cope with the frustration of his life. His only outlet is a local bimbo he occasionally hits on in a bar.

The other character, a Haitian women named Vanise, is probably the more remarkable. Like Bob, she's been beaten down, but the obstacles she faces are not merely boredom and a lack of satisfaction; her obstacles threaten her physical and spiritual existence.

In the background is Bob's wife who seems simply to endure, but it soon becomes apparent that while Bob flounders through his life, she is the one with strength.

Bob and Vanise begin their separate journeys to Florida, where they believe they will find salvation.

It doesn't happen. Though both show incredible resilience (she more than he), it seems that each time there looks to be a chance of rising above their respective lots, they get beaten down again.

There are points in the book where you wonder "how much more can he/she take?"

Then your read another chapter and say "jeez...they can take a lot more".

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